French President FranÃ§ois Hollande decided having
wine with lunch is more important than breaking bread with
Iranâ€™s President Hassan Rouhani during an
official visit to Paris.
Hollande scrapped the lunch at the Ã‰lysÃ©e Palace after Rouhani asked for a halal menu in keeping with his Muslim faith, and that also meant no wine at the table during his first visit as president to the City of Light.
â€œIt is not the halal which was a problem but the wine,â€ Franceâ€™s ambassador to the United States, GÃ©rard Araud, said on Twitter. â€œNobody should constrain anybody to drink or not to drink.â€
Hollandeâ€™s decision means
heâ€™s likely to avoid the criticism leveled at
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi this week.
In Italy, where wine is just as much a part of the culinary routine as in France, officials submitted to the Iranian leaderâ€™s demands during a state dinner Monday. Italian officials also erected large boxes around nude statues at Romeâ€™s Campidoglio museum to protect the gaze of officials from the Islamic Republic from falling on artistsâ€™ renderings of the human form.
Renziâ€™s decision outraged critics on the left and right.
â€œRespect for other cultures cannot and must not mean negating our own,â€ said Luca Squeri, a lawmaker in former prime minister Silvio Berlusconiâ€™s center-right Forza Italia party. â€œThis isnâ€™t respect, itâ€™s canceling out differences and itâ€™s a kind of surrender.â€
Source: USA Today